|REAL ID Update
This week, I joined 115 of my House colleagues in signing on to a letter to President Donald Trump asking for his administration to re-examine the application of the REAL ID Act and encourage Congress to make changes to the law in order to resolve the constitutional and cost issues associated with it. You can read the letter here.
As you may know, Pennsylvania was recently granted an extension by the federal government to comply with REAL ID. The Commonwealth now has until June 5 to fix state law to meet the requirements of the act.
The delay will allow Pennsylvania residents to continue using their driver’s licenses as identification to enter federal buildings. Without the extension, residents would have needed an additional photo ID, such as a passport, to gain access to military buildings, nuclear power plants and federal facilities starting on Jan. 30.
Rescuing the Rescuers: Helping Save Our Volunteer Fire, EMS Companies
This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate unveiled a 16-bill package to support fire and ambulance services across the Commonwealth.
The legislation is designed to address growing financial costs faced by companies, the shortage of volunteers and the lack of affordable and easily accessible training options.
On the funding side, measures within the package seek to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates, increase surcharges on moving violations to support the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund, and provide new billing options for fire departments and EMS organizations.
To address the volunteer shortage, the package includes bills to promote recruitment and retention by offering online training to make the process more convenient, provide loan forgiveness to attract volunteers, develop a pilot program to offer firefighter training in secondary schools, and offer tax credits to businesses that excuse their employees when they need to respond to emergencies or undergo training.
Getting to Work with House Committee Assignments
This week, the House Committee on Committees met to finalize assignments for the 27 standing committees to cover the 2017-18 legislative session.
This term, I will be serving on the House Children and Youth, Gaming Oversight and Local Government committees. These assignments allow me to have a greater insight into the legislation and issues discussed and help me better represent our district.
All bills are assigned to a standing committee to undergo review. Committees may hold hearings on legislation, consider amendments to pending bills and report them to the full House for a vote.
Emergency Programs Can Save Lives
To help first responders help motorists and passengers who may be injured in car crashes, PennDOT offers two programs aimed at saving the lives of Pennsylvanians in emergency situations – the Yellow Dot and Emergency Contact Information programs.
Participants in Yellow Dot fill out the program form with emergency contact, medical contact and medical information, insert it in the program’s folder and then place it in their vehicle’s glove compartment. A yellow dot sticker affixed to the rear window alerts emergency responders to the availability of information to help them provide better care to crash victims.
The Emergency Contact Information program offers Pennsylvania driver’s license and PennDOT-issued ID holders the opportunity to log into a secure database and list two emergency contacts. Participants can update the information as needed, but only law enforcement officials can view the information in the system. In the event of an emergency, law enforcement can use a participant’s ID to find his or her emergency contact information.
The Yellow Dot program is used only in vehicle crashes, but the Emergency Contact Information program can be used in other emergencies as well as crashes.
To learn more, click here.
Wear Red Feb. 3 to Raise Awareness of Women’s Heart Disease
Women across the country are encouraged to wear red on Friday, Feb. 3, as part of the “Go Red for Women” campaign to raise awareness of women’s heart disease. Legislative efforts over the years have made the official designation in Pennsylvania as a way to remind women of the risks of heart disease.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women each year, causing one in three deaths each year, or about one per minute. According to the American Heart Association, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women vs. men, and are often misunderstood. By increasing awareness, speaking up about heart disease and empowering women to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, we can save thousands of lives each year.
Uniontown High School Anti-Drug Assembly
I was pleased to join several speakers at Uniontown High School to aid in a presentation about teens and drug abuse. It was an informative session to help spread an anti-drug message.
Pictured below are the speakers Haylei Mickey, Kate Chiplaskey, Rick Dauria, Jason Hayes and myself. Miko the dog joined us as well.
My Audio Podcast
I am recording audio Legislative Report podcasts on a periodic basis. You can listen to them by clicking on the Audio Podcast link above the headline in this email, and all future ones.
This week, I talk about my committee assignments and what my goals are for this session.
All podcasts are on my website as well at RepDowling.com. Just click on the audio section in the left column.